Idyllwild – PCT mile 180.8
9.2 miles (my best guesstimate)
What a long day to have hiked less than 10 miles. I guess I do have to account for the fact that we gained about 4000 feet of elevation today, too.
The day started nicely enough, waking up in a warm soft bed. Although, I was having a stress dream about trying to get back on trail and getting left behind by all my friends, and somehow ending up with two random children whose parents I couldn’t find, so I was a bit out of sorts this morning. I was in no hurry to leave my little room and go back to the trail knowing I would be camping below freezing tonight.
I talked to H for awhile, took a hot shower, clipped my nails, taped my blister and hot spots, dilly dallied. Wang likes to hike early so she went on, but I was in no rush, knowing we weren’t going very far today. I stayed behind and took my sweet time packing up my bag.
When I was about to leave the room, Wang texted and said she saw Rosco and Mia over at The Red Kettle, which is where I had planned to breakfast before hitting the trail. Let’s pretend we’re civilized for just a bit longer.
I rushed over and had a nice long breakfast with them- corned beef hash, two eggs over medium, fruit, toast, OJ and coffee. It was good to catch up with those guys. I miss them.
When I could no longer stretch out breakfast, I sat outside and wrote some postcards, dropped them in the mail and set off. Here we go again!
Since we had to walk a detour to get in here, due to a fire closure, I had to walk another detour to get back to the PCT where the fire closure ends. The recommendation was to take the Devil’s Slide trail out of town and back to the PCT, but this cuts out 1.4 miles of legal trail, so I took neighborhood roads to the South Ridge Trailhead. And up and up and up I went. I walked uphill all day. ALL DAY!
What I didn’t realize is that, when I reached Tahquitz Peak, I would have to traverse some snowy trail. I didn’t know this until I got to the South Ridge Trailhead and saw two notes from previous hikers warning of the need for snow experience. Still, the notes were from a couple of weeks ago, so I thought there must have been some melt since then, right? But then I met a guy on the way down who warned me of treacherous trail conditions once you reached Tahquitz Peak. But he said my friends were going to go ahead and traverse it and said to say hi. So, I continued.
When I finally reached Tahquitz Peak 40 minutes later, I saw what the warnings were about. A lot of the trail was fine, but there were sections where the mountain went straight uphill on my right and straight downhill on my left and the trail was completely covered in snow.
I. Was. Terrified.
I have an irrational fear of heights. Even six feet off the ground, my whole body goes stiff and my vision goes wobbly. And here I was alone. It was either go forward or go all the way back down to Idyllwild, so forward it was. One step at a time. Luckily, others had gone before and left footholds in the snow, so I carefully stepped from footprint to footprint, focusing only on the immediate area until I crossed each snowy section. I did it! I’m alive! I can’t say I conquered my fear, because I am still absolutely afraid of heights, but I persevered in the face of my fear, and that feels good.
Yadda, yadda, up, up, up, and here I am in my tent at 9000 feet, freezing my bum off and risking hypothermia to type this. Tomorrow we summit San Jacinto Peak. This peak is a side trip from the official PCT, because why the hell not? We’re already here, might as well, might as well.
Today I met:
– That couple I kept running into yesterday! Crap, I can’t remember their names! But his birthday is May 5.
– Hugo, a fast hiker who has spent a few days hiking with Rosco and Mia. He’s an Aussie.
– Tim and Kevin, on a day hike up South Ridge. Tim is from Nashville and is about to move to Chattanooga.
Today I learned:
– I can doooooeeeeet!
Today’s hike was powered by knowing the show must go on.